Thursday, August 4, 2011

Thursday Night in Inwood: Inwood Shakespeare Festival presents Moose Hall Theatre Company's "War of The Worlds"

This evening we were up in beautiful Inwood Hill Park, on the peninsula at the tip of Manhattan for the Inwood Shakespeare Festival's presentation of a fascinating, marvelously performed adaptation of H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds by the Moose Hall Theatre Company's talented founder and producing artistic director Ted Minos.

This is the twelfth season of the Inwood Shakespeare Festival, which has featured one play of the Bard and others each themed summer, and we're sorry we have never made it to far northern Manhattan for this before. This a thoroughly professional enterprise, with the best outdoor sound system we've heard for park plays, excellent lighting, and high production values.

We taught H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds last fall in our Science Fiction class at the wonderful Borough of Manhattan Community College, and of course it's set in suburban London well over a century ago. Orson Welles' famous world-panicking radio production and the recent movie adaptation, as well as others, have taken place in contemporary periods, as does Ted Minos' adaptation.

It featured an outstanding cast, all of whom played two, three or four roles as the earthlings in various locales, including Inwood and this park itself (there are clearly some Inwood inside jokes and references in the script). This War of the Worlds had both well-crafted character studies and pungent social criticism along with the SF scariness.

We thought it was impressive how the cast members -- Amanda Griemsmann, Randall Marquez, Ted Minos, Marissa Molnar, Alexa Mullen, George Pappas, Ross Pivec, Michael Propster, Elliot Wadworth, Max Robkoff and Karen Wexler could morph from one role to another and make most of the characters distinctive.

This was an ambitious and thoughtful re-telling of H.G. Wells' classic story of interplanetary invasion and resistance.

We're grateful for the Moose Hall Theatre Company and the Inwood Shakespeare Festival for presenting it, especially in such a beautiful locale.

We hadn't been to Inwood since the 1980s and had never been in Inwood Hill Park, so we got here early by taking the A train to the last stop, 207th Street (we went back with the 1 train at 215th Street) so we had time to walk around and enjoy the surroundings.

Inwood is the part of Manhattan that makes you feel like you're nowhere near Manhattan, and we're looking forward to coming back.

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